The Department of Transport introduced the National Land Transport Bill, noting the points of departure between this Bill and the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA). This Bill in particular addressed issues that arose from the taxi recapitalisation scheme, and concerns arising from the tourism industry around operating licenses. The Bill would not preclude the formation also of provincial legislation. It would be focusing on municipal entities and the provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act would be important. The MEC now needed to consult with the Minister before issuing transport licences. A dedicated fund would be established to replace the metropole-focused Urban Transport Fund. Transport planning frameworks were included in Chapter 4, but the details would be fleshed out in the regulations. Chapter 5 noted that there were rapid inner city bus networks being planned. The conversion process of permits to operating licences was addressed in Chapter 6, and licenses would exist for a period of seven years. The provincial appeal structures set up under the NLTTA would be replaced with a National Transport Appeal Tribunal. Members raised questions around the stakeholders consulted. They also expressed some concerns that the stipulations on vehicles used for tourism may preclude emerging operators. Some Members expressed their concern that it might be premature to consider this Bill, as there were issues that were still being raised, but the Chairperson considered that the Committee was ready to deal with the issues, and would be calling for comments from the public. It would be desirable to have joint briefings involving the NCOP committee and those dealing with provincial and local government matters, which crossed over into transport.
National Land Transport Bill (the Bill): Version of 6 June: Department of Transport (DoT) briefing
Mr Mathabatha Monkonyama, Chief Director: Integrated Transport Planning, DoT, provided a presentation on the National Land Transport Bill, noting how this Bill differed from the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA). He added that the Bill addressed issues that arose from the taxi recapitalisation scheme, and concerns arising from the tourism industry around operating licenses. He added that there was a tendency to focus on city led transport strategies.
Mr Monkonyama stated that in the previous Act both provincial and national spheres were dealt with but that this Bill would not preclude the formation of provincial legislation.
The Chairperson interjected that the 08 May version of the bill had been replaced by the new 06 June version and that it was this that they now referred to.
Mr Monkonyama added that issues important to the NLTTA were still pertinent to the Bill. He outlined pertinent issues within the Bill, beginning with Chapter 2. He noted that in the previous legislation four transport authorities existed. This Bill aimed to focus on municipal entities, meaning that Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) issues needed to be taken into considerations. An issue of contention was that previously the Municipality needed to apply to the MEC for a transport licence, but now the MEC needed to consult the Minister as well in connection with the issuing of licences.
Chapter 3 dealt with funding arrangements and the establishment of a dedicated fund to replace the metropole- focused Urban Transport Fund.
Chapter 4 dealt with transport planning, which Mr Monkonyama added was very much the same as in the NLTTA. The Bill would outline the framework and the detail would be in the regulations.
Chapter 5 included bus route contracts and the fact that the Department wished to legislate for rapid inner city bus networks.
Chapter 6 dealt with the conversion process of permits to operating licenses, which all expired after a period of seven years. Chapter 7 covered law enforcement.
An important departure from the NLTTA was contained in Chapter 8, with the replacement of provincial appeal structures with a National Transport Appeal Tribunal.
Mr Monkonyama indicated that the Department had consulted a wide range of stakeholders when drafting the Bill and that it had been looked at also by the State Law Advisers.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked for clarity on the process. He asked whether the submissions made in the drafting of this Bill had been made available to all stakeholders.
Mr Mogale was worried about the stipulations concerning vehicles used for tourism in terms of the specification of equipment levels, as he felt that stringent requirements may preclude emerging operators.
Mr Monkonyama added that the conditions stipulated in the bill were flexible and served as examples.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked what the findings were of the special task team that was mandated with looking at the regulation of the tourist industry. He added that the deadline for comments was 30 April, but that now the Department was going back and finding matters that had not previously been considered. Mr Farrow questioned whether the bill was actually ready for presentation and debate. He asked about the process of streamlining operating licence processes.
The Chairperson stated that it was not for this Committee to ask about the processes, but rather that this must be decided on. The Committee needed the comments of the public as well, and there was an onus on the Committee to actively seek stakeholders’ opinions. The Chairperson felt that the Department had done its job and the Committee must take over. The Committee now needed to examine the Bill in detail, then ask for the State Law Advisor’s input.
The Chairperson added that the Department of Local and Provincial Government (DPLG) was busy with matters concerning transport as well and that these processes would need discussion by both relevant Departments. He asked what the status of MinMEC was and noted the need to involve the trade unions as well. He added that the NCOP Committee should be brought on board to ensure synchronous time management and he felt that that this briefing should have been a joint briefing. The Chairperson stressed the need to work fast on the passing of this bill as it was of crucial importance.
Mr Mogale replied that he agreed with the Chairperson.
Mr Monkonyama also agreed with the Chairperson. He added that maybe future briefings should be held as joint briefings.
Mr Monkonyama added that MinMEC did not have legal status, but was a very important consulting body.
The meeting was adjourned.
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